Observers Artdocfest / Riga 2021
The 21st
Director Dmitry Kabakov

Формально 21 век начался в 2001 году. Но фактически век наступает только сейчас, в 2021м. Именно сейчас происходят существенные, сущностные изменения в укладе жизни страны, мира, качественный скачёк. В Миллениум мы снимали, мы пытались разглядеть ростки нового века. В результате получился фильм «Как поживаете?» . Но тогда мало что можно было увидеть. То было в основном время радужных надежд. Мы хотим продолжить наше исследование. Мы вернёмся к нашим старым знакомым спустя 20 лет – за это время младенец вырос, а взрослый стал другим – и через них попытаемся увидеть действительные черты 21 века.

Director Alina Matochkina

In 1986, the largest work of art in Europe, the Wall of Memory, was illegally destroyed in Kiev, and along with it, the names of its two authors, Ada Rybachuk and Vladimir Melnichenko, were erased from the history of art. For many years this story has been kept in the strictest confidence and is known only to a narrow circle of the creative elite.
All attempts by the authors to achieve justice and to be heard only lead to even greater resistance from the authorities against them. Their names are gradually crossed out under all major works, from the lists of Ukrainian artists, and to top it off, in 2004, their studio was illegally written off and tried to be taken away. This incident leaves a final imprint on Ada's health, and with the words “I can no longer be in this circular lie, probably, I will leave you alone, perhaps you alone will be able to do what we both failed to do” - Ada dies.
For 7 years, the film crew has been watching how this story develops, the courage of Vladimir, who, despite his old age and other difficulties, continues his struggle, in the name of Ada and their joint creativity, and how he, as a result, with the participation of a new generation, achieves colossal results.

Director / Producer Sergei Chetverukhin

The confrontation between archaism and modernity in the oldest theater school in the country - the St. Petersburg Theater Academy. Every year they come here to fulfill their dream: to become an artist. Every year, students experience a severe dissonance between the big world, in which new languages of the theater flourish, and the Academy, where they are taught in the same way as 20, 30, 50 years ago. In which the development of creative freedom is not welcomed. This is a story about three paths of students at the Academy: rebellion, breaking or embedding into the system.

Kinship votaress
Ukraine, Israel
Director Olga Simonenko

What exactly is the study of family history — an attempt to answer personal existential questions or to build a connection with past generations and receive support from them? Turning to historian-genealogist Olga, women faced with complicated life circumstances, repeated in several generations, try to understand how they inherit negative scenarios of their family and how to stop this influence.


Searching Faina
Director Durna Safarova

Faina, a 33-year-old woman from Azerbaijan, loses her life under suspicious circumstances in a prison in 2007. Silenced today by the authorities and forgotten by society, Faina’s story is about a female activists who fought for freedom, justice and democracy.

Return. Bitter.Sweet.
Azerbaijan, UK
Director Shahida Tulaganova

They’ve lost this land only to come back 30 years later to the lives long lost, to homes which don’t exist, to the land claimed by others. Return. Bitter. Sweet is an observational documentary feature following four Azerbaijani Karabakh refugees who are planning to go back to their villages, which they were forced to leave 30 years ago.

Director Ilya Komarov, Producer Anton Yarosh

A documentary exploring several distanced locations in Russia placed on the state border.
We will visit the border with Poland, formerly Prussian town; a little village near Mongolia, populated by indigenous ethnical minority called Soyot; the Russian border with North Korea, the forgotten locality Khasan, beyond which begins the territory of probably the most closed country of the world. All locations are connected through one bigger context — all of these are part of modern Russia. A familiar routine will unfold against strikingly different, diverse backdrops.

Russia / Paracollective
Director Dina Karaman, Vladimir Nadein

Hundreds of thousands of gamers in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and other post-Soviet states are playing "GTA: Criminal Russia", a roleplay modification of the popular video game. It involves hard-and-fast rules, harsh laws, and ruthless control. Each player wants to rise through the ranks of Russian government authorities, which means acting "properly" in the collective virtual performance.

Children of change
Director Alya Skrypen

It's a film about the events in Belarus through the eyes of young people, who took to the streets to peacefully express their disagreement with the election results and had to grow up fast, faced with violence and lawlessness.

Director Alizhan Nasirov

Newly qualified paramedic Myizambek Ishenbek Uulu is just 22, but he must care for over 400 people in a remote Kyrgyz village. He travels to many of his patients on horseback or on foot.

Home video of Perestroika
Director Georgy Porotov

This is the story of my family, my father, and the video camera that was supposed to connect our family through the iron curtain of the USSR. The curtain fell, the camera recorded the collapse of the empire, perestroika, the history of the country and the history of my family, which was never reunited, and my father left me a will to make a film about it all.

The Road to Slavalachia
Belarus, Ukraine
Director Varfolomey Kuraga, Producer Nadezhda Ilkevich

The Road to Slavalachia documents the international collaboration of three folk musicians from Appalachia, Belarus, and Western Ukraine. They travel to one another's regions to create a new revolutionary culture rooted from old traditions. The documentary follows their "journey" to Slavalachia, an uncharted land that exists only in their shared creativity.

Woman and Sea
Director Sharipa Urazbayeva

Through the life and lifestyle of the heroine of the film Azhar, who lives in the Aral Sea and does not lose heart as a fisherman in the sea on a par with mеn, to highlight the current state of the Aral Sea problem.

My life to live
Director Nikolay Flotsky

What will the city of the future be like? Wishing to be it a friendly place for all population groups, Alexey develops a «wheelchair» that will allow disabled people to move around the urban environments on their own as well as to play football. Besides it can be also used by healthy children and adults too. The life of Alexey is the story of a heroic artist who lives in his own world, but is eager to change the world of all of us.

Twin fences
Director Yana Osman, Producer Andrey Silvestrov, Lyusia Artemieva

An investigation about iconic fence PO-2 that now covers 40% of Eurasia leads a filmmaker to Afghanistan where her family story forces to face her own cross-cultural fences.

Are You Mental?
Director Marina Nekrasova, Producer Asya Ruchevskaya

It all started when they were teens and it never stopped. To this day, compulsive thoughts and obsessive fears are plaguing their lives. But where do these thoughts come from? Is it still possible to overcome them? The documentary gives an insight into the nature of neurotic disorders in adolescents and shows the ways to handle them.

Prohibition of certain actions
Director Tamara Turilova

In February, Alla and Danya started dating. In April, Alla and three other editors of the DOXA student magazine were placed under house arrest for the video with their appeal to students not be afraid to go to rallies. The court sent editors to the place of their residence. But Alla could not live in her mother’s apartment. Her lawyer applied a petition of changing her address. It was approved. Alla moved to Danya`s apartment. The most important trial for the them has begun. Because there are no recipes for how to save love through hardship, especially when it’s a criminal case.

And they were friends happily ever after
Director Tatiana Graf

Five female friends full of hopes and plans record video messages to each other before graduating from school. They imagine who would become whom in 5 years, express their expectations for life. Then the film takes place nowadays, 5 later. A viewer learns about the stories of the real life, who of the girls could implement their plans, and whose life has changed dramatically. (One of the characters is the director of this film, who dreamed of becoming a film director 5 years ago and of making this film).

Director Evgeniya Chesnok

When Mila from Stavropol shows her self-portrait, made two years ago, will we see tough relationships with her mother or harassment from the brother? The girl creates dark and austere figures without clear indicators of gender. Mila goes to Moscow in search of a new expressive language. There she begins to work under the pseudonym "Kroshkina" ("Baby girl"). Now there are bright and sexy women on the canvases, but what caused this metamorphosis?

Who Is Next?
Director Nurzhamal Karamoldoeva, Sultan Usuvaliev, Producer Altynai Koichumanova

The wide-spread practice of “ala kachuu” (“bride kidnapping”, an abduction of girls and women for forcing them into marriage) in Kyrgyzstan is explored in the form of a true crime documentary through the investigation of recent deadly cases of the kidnapped and murdered Aizada Kanatbekova and Burulai Turdalieva.

Little by little
Director Orzumurod Sharipov

I am one hero per 14 villages, as Karomat calls himself, a hero of the Afghan war. Now he lives a peaceful life, grazes sheep

Director Anastasia Kulikova

A diary film about a 20-year-old girl named Martha, according to her passport, Masha.
Martha lives two lives. Martha is a bright girl whose reality is like a fireworks or a kaleidoscope. She is a model, artist, DJ at parties. She talks about love, space, internal contradictions, and in the remaining time Martha composes the elvish language.
Masha's life is the life of a sincere, bright child.

The Last Mark
Director Elizaveta Keshisheva

The Dead Sea is rapidly disappearing - its salty waters evaporate at a rate of 1 meter per year. If nothing is done, in 40 years nothing will be left of the Dead Sea. The hero of the film, hermit Mark, settled on an abandoned seashore 12 years ago. The place where he lives is "nobody's land", which does not belong to Israel or Palestine. He is a kind of "keeper of the place", who escaped from people. However, as for hermits who settled here thousands of years ago, he became the center of attraction for this biblical land, doomed to destruction.

Abnormals. Genderfuck
Director Anton Cherenkov

Why do we consider one behavior and appearance to be acceptable, while another disgusts us? What is normal? Why is it so difficult to change the existing foundations? Our heroes are people who are not like us, but who also want to be free and happy. We will see how silly gender stereotypes will seem if we immerse them in the historical and cultural context, we will see how the “power of normalization” works.

No man is an island
Director Lena Ritter, Producer Helga Grigorieva

A woman wanders into the abandoned building in St.Petersburg with her camera. There she meets two homeless men, bound by unclear relationship. The younger man falls in love with a woman and follows her to Moscow, leaving his ill partner behind. She lets him stay. The unusual love triangle becomes a starting point of a documentary, exploring the concept of family and social class boundaries.



Russia / Belarus
Director Maria Tikhonova

Her name is Nina Baginskaya. She is 74 years old and her usual day begins with the fact that she takes one of her white-red-white flags and goes to the central square of Minsk, not afraid of any detentions or provocations.
This film is about a woman-heroine who fights for well-being not only on the streets of her native Minsk, but also within the walls of her home. She was placed in a pre-trial detention center more than once, the state takes away from her almost all her pension to pay fines, threats and curses are often heard against her. But even this doesn’t stop Nina.

Director Maria Balasanyan

The Second Karabakh War ended on the 20th of April, 2020. It ended at night by signing formal document, but it didn’t end for people who chose to live in their homeland. There are many questions left, lists of missing persons, lists of found ones. The age-old fight of Armenians for their nation has not ended. People are ready to do everything to stop the war not only formally. The documentary film is about the events in Armenia during the 45 days of war and about the days after signing peace.

LimON/OFF. One day
Director Liliya Vyugina

This film depicts Limonov as a human being. Limonov is at home, in his study, with an old, barely working computer. Hand-washed socks hang in the kitchen. There is also a bath and a fridge with nothing inside. Just a few spoonfuls of buckwheat porridge leftover from the guests. Asceticism and spartan conditions.
Limonov is an opposition politician at that time. He's in isolation and disgrace. But he's just settled into his personal life after getting out of prison. His son was born. But arrest and prison, threats and danger often appear in his monologues.

Til the river ends
Russia / Red Siberia Production
Director / Producer Mariya Krasnoperova

Modernity reaches a remote Siberian river, ending the 67 year career of a ship that is more than a mode of transport for the community, it is their heart and home. What worries our Siberian ship-dwellers is what life will be like after this big change.

The last river
Director Sergei Shinkarev

Trilogy "The Last River" tells about life in the most remote places of Russia - moreover, the distance to the capital of the country is not of decisive importance. The first film was filmed in 2014, when the film crew walked along the river from the headwaters to the mouth. The second part will be filmed in August 2021, in the mountains of the Baikal region, at the head of the Lena. Filming of the third film is scheduled for 2022-2023, in the Arctic. The heroes of the trilogy are free people.

What does America have to do with it?
Director Alexey Salomatov

Not everyone in Russia gives in to anti-american state propaganda. Lilia is a mother of three children living in Moscow. Last summer she organized a birthday party «America. In search of a dream» for her 9 year old son in a small village where she is from located 500 kms from Moscow. She is planning to use still remaining American themed props for her son’s upcoming birthday this summer. The story will take place in America again and the key message of the event will be the victory of science over ignorance.

Let it be a girl
Russia, Kazakhstan
Director Katerina Suvorova

A film-portrait of Central Asian women who received the names-wishes "Let it be a boy" from their parents at birth.

Sweet milky corn
Director Aizhana Kasymbek, Producer Diana Ashimova

A true story about an ordinary guy who, at the age of 29, went from an orphanage to a mental hospital, without losing his taste for life. The documentary shows the life and death, love and hate, hope and dreams of one family through the prism of the protagonist. However, the film does not tell the classic story of a mentally sick person, but touches on such eternally human questions about the fate of a person who meets sunrises and sunsets and continues to live and hope.

River dreams
Kazakhstan / 24 FPS film production company
Director Kristina Mikhailova, Producer Dana Sabitova

River has its own life. She indifferently carries meltwater of high glaciers to the hot sands of Kapchagay lake, paying no attention to what is happening near her coasts. But one day she feels like a human being in her dream.
The hybrid movie shows the way of the ordinary Almaty region river with a length of about 130 kilometers. It's a story about the small details and big events of this adventure from the river’s point of view, through its eyes. The main character is the girl River with her fascinating character, world view, dreams and fatality. Have you ever imagined what rivers dream about?

Boney Piles
Ukraine / InsightMedia
Director Taras Tomenko, Producer Vladimir Filippov

This story is about children who do not see the war on TV and about childhood, which continues despite the war. Heaps are the place where the action takes place, and at the same time the image of "worked" and abandoned human lives. The story of children who suffered from the shelling, who lost their parents and loved ones, but continue to live and love where life has left hope for others.
According to official statistics, about 10,000 children live in the war zone in Ukraine.

Chernobyl - a forerunner of Independence
Director Evgeny Titarenko, Producer Natalia Khazan

The damage from the Chernobyl accident is more than $ 1 trillion. The death toll continues to rise and future generations will suffer the consequences of the accident in many parts of the world. And this tragedy must be repeated and reminded from different angles. After all, those who do not understand the lessons of history are doomed to live them again.
The USSR buried Chernobyl, and Chernobyl buried the USSR. This is the story of how the spring of a totalitarian regime burst the price of such an amount.

The Unlike
Russia / Novyy Kurs / Docs Vostok
Director Kapitolina Dolgikh, Producer Olga Averkieva, Ksenia Gapchenko

Dana is a messy trouble-maker. She is an adopted restless Romani teenager raised by Russian foster parents in the tiny village in Ural. «The Unlike» is a teenage documentary dramedy about Dana’s revolted adolescence.
Dana has warm olive skin, thick lips and dark hair. Every day she looks in the mirror and hates her own reflection. Dana has been adopted in her very early childhood - recently unintentionally she found affiliation papers and got to know that her biological parents are Romani people. This new detail about the origin traumatized Dana a lot. Romani have always been considered the most marginal and dangerous ethnic group - ‘filthy gypsies’, thieves and beggars, vagabonds who steal children and horses, drug pushers. She hates this Romani side of her and wants it to disappear. It can’t vanish, but Dana hardly tries to cover it behind numerous layers of whitenin skin concealer. Dana can’t see that she is pretty.

Youth of Beki
Director Almira Saifullina

A personal journey into the inside world of an ancient town of Bukhara in Central Asia through the life of a young man, coming of age in the patriarch orient society. The story of how a man's youth ends.

Jakutia: cinema between the worlds
Russia / Cultural Center "Cinema Art"
Director Vladimir Kocharyan, Producer Maxim Mussel, Boris Guts

In this road movie, the director сomes to his homeland, Yakutia, where, while being a teenager he witnessed the beginning of the socalled "Yakut film boom" phenomenon. The Sakha people, whose population does not exceed 500 thousand people, have formed an independent film industry, producing up to 25 films a year. The director hits the road to discover the secret of the freedom of the Sakha people and reminds himself what it was like to be an Armenian child born in a Yakut village.